Lincoln County Commissioner Ramey submits his resignation
HAMLIN, W.Va. -- Lincoln County Commissioner Thomas Ramey Jr., who is expected to plead guilty next month to charges connected to a countywide voting fraud scheme, resigned from his position Monday.
Commission President Charles McCann said that Ramey, 32, submitted a letter sometime Monday, announcing his plans to resign. The commission will hold an emergency meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday to accept the resignation.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced last week that federal authorities had charged Ramey with knowingly making false statements to investigators who were looking into a ballot-stuffing scheme during the 2010 Democratic primary election.
Ramey told FBI agents that he did not know who had altered absentee ballot applications after they were filed with the Lincoln County Clerk's office when, in fact, he told someone else to alter the applications, Goodwin's office alleged.
In March, former Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman and County Clerk Donald Whitten pleaded guilty to charges of making a false statement to a federal agent and conspiracy.
Prosecutors say Bowman falsified more than 100 absentee ballot applications for voters who did not have any legal basis to vote absentee. He went to many of the voters' homes, stood by as they filled in their ballots, and made comments that attempted to influence which candidates he wanted them to select, prosecutors said.
Bowman also admitted that he witnessed a 'known associate' -- now believed to be Ramey -- complete absentee ballot applications for the voters who did not qualify for absentee status.
Whitten admitted that he lied to an investigator about his role in the conspiracy, and said he never provided the absentee ballots to the associate, who also hand delivered the ballots to the voters.
Ramey told federal agents that he did not know who altered the absentee ballots after they were submitted to Whitten, "when, in fact, he well knew ..." according to an information filed last Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
An information is a court document that generally indicates a defendant is willing to cooperate with the government.
Lincoln County officials have been waiting for Ramey to announce his resignation ever since Bowman and Whitten agreed to plead guilty for their parts in the conspiracy.
If, as expected, his resignation is accepted Tuesday, McCann and Lincoln Commissioner Charles Vance would need to appoint a replacement for Ramey.